Scratching is an inherent feline trait.
Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, such as to mark their territory, to stretch and exercise their toes and to shed the dead outer layer of their claws. Some cats like to scratch horizontally and others vertically.
Cat-scratcher manufacturers have to meet all these needs when designing scratchers.
“And there’s even more to it,” John Farrell, CEO of Pet Pals, said. “Scratcher designers are very aware that it’s very important to offer cats scratching surfaces that are typically not found in the home, so that they can differentiate between expensive Persian carpets and surfaces that are being specifically provided for them. That’s why the trend is moving away from traditional carpeting to materials such as jute, sisal, and paper rope and corrugated cardboard.”
Today, the category focuses on freestanding scratchers, as well as cat condos with designated scratching zones as part of the overall design.
“There’s a formula for cat condos,” Farrell said. “They have to offer cats [an] area to hide, perch, as well as an activity (place to scratch).”
They also have to be decorative.
“This is a key element,” Fred Silver, CEO of Enchanted Home Pet, said.
Enchanted Home Pet is a Clifton, N.J.-based company that produces elegant pet furniture as well as a wide selection of recycled corrugated scratchers. The scratchers come in a variety of innovative shapes designed to be decorative features and to blend with typical interior design colors and furniture styles.
Fun shapes, such as Enchanted Home Pet’s wave-styled Catalina, offer raised and flat surfaces and that also allow cats areas to stretch, play around them and even hide, making them interactive play zones.
The Cat’s Pajamas Cardboard Cat Scratchers is a nest of three stacked scratchers, which can be placed together to create an amusement center or placed separately in different parts of the home.
Imperial Cat has just introduced eight new designs, such as new antique and watercolor patterns, as well as a basket weave and a wood grain. The new designs can be found on their popular shapes such as the Sleigh Bed, Large Wedge and the Cozy Curl, to ensure they complement multiple interior home décor styles.
“I think it’s really important for retailers to ask consumers questions about their cat’s scratching habits, such as where they like to scratch and whether they are vertical or horizontal scratchers,” April Meier, owner of Pawsitively Scrumptious in Crestview, Fla., said. “And it’s equally important to educate consumers about the reasons why cats scratch. Apart from marking territory and keeping nails in shape, it’s really good exercise. My customers like to experiment with different products but usually only buy one at a time. However, if it gets feline approval, they often come back for more to place in different parts of the home.”
Keep Them Coming In
Whether the scratching surfaces are carpeting or renewable resources, they are eventually going to become worn and will need to be replaced, making it a good item to carry in a store.
Refine Feline‘s Lotus Cat Tower, described as an Oak veneer Zen-like design home accent, may be considered a stylish item of feline furniture, but nevertheless all the carpet and sisal pads are replaceable and are simply Velcroed in place.
Worldwise’s latest range of scratchers, such as the sisal-covered Sisal Angle scratcher, comes with replacements pads so that they, too, can maintain their sleek look, and ensure that cats always have a scratching surface that is in good condition to meet their needs.
“Replacement scratching surfaces are a strong selling feature when the scratcher is considered an item of home furnishing,” Farrell said. “Further, it’s important that bigger items are actually packed in kit form for home assembly. This makes it easier for retailers to stock and practical for consumers to get the item home.”
Meier agreed that the advent of replaceable parts for furniture-styled scratchers is excellent, and she has had a lot of positive customer feedback in this regard.
Apart from scratchers made from renewable resources, such as jute and sisal, recycled corrugated cardboard has become a very popular material for scratchers because they are well priced, making it possible for cat owners to purchase several to be placed around the home. Initially, they were only available in horizontal scratchers but are now also available in vertical styles that can be easily attached to a doorknob.